Rotating veteran R.J. Heath and Ian Mercer has proved a viable option for the Jets as each has played well through the team’s first seven games. Heath is two years older than Mercer and the latter has shown he has the maturity in goal to match his counterpart.
Mercer, a Rochester Hills native, was a draft pick of Metro back in May out of the highly successful Honeybaked AAA program. His personal goalie coach, Erik Schardt of Post To Post Goalie Schools, is now on board as the Jets’ goaltending coach.
“Ian has developed greatly over the past season,” said Schardt. “He has shown from moving up from high school to midget minor and now to juniors that he can compete at any level.”
Standing just 5-foot-7 and tipping the scales at just a shade under 150 pounds, size is not an issue with Mercer, who Schardt said reminds him of some pretty elite talent.
“Even though he is not the tallest goalie, he utilizes his quickness and reaction time which allows him to appear larger than he actually is,” Schardt said. “Ian reminds me a lot of (former Michigan State goalie) Jeff Lerg, who is also a smaller stature goaltender.”
Schardt added that if Mercer, who only turns 17 next Monday, continues to improve on a daily basis, the sky is the limit for him.
“Ian is very strong on the cross-crease movements and his anticipation of plays,” added Schardt. “He is one of the hardest workers I have seen and is such a natural athlete. With his hard work and productivity in hockey and in school, I can see Ian playing NCAA hockey in the future.”
LOOKING BACK, LOOKING AHEAD
Saturday night, Quad City took a 5-1 decision. Mercer made 32 saves for the Jets, whose only goal was a shorthanded effort by Justin Vinson (Livonia) 13 seconds into the second period.
Then Sunday afternoon, Heath (Holly) was the lone bright spot as Metro was blanked, 6-0. Heath stopped 34 shots in the loss.
The Jets (0-7-0) return home this weekend hosting the Peoria Mustangs for two at Lakeland Arena. Game times are 7:50 p.m. Saturday night and 1:20 p.m. Sunday afternoon.
Peoria, 0-6-0 this year, is coached by former NHL draft pick Darwin McPherson, a fourth-round pick in 1987 of the Boston Bruins. McPherson also played four seasons with the Peoria minor-league franchise in the IHL and ECHL.
Metro has officially named their captains for this season as veteran defenseman Brett Grech (Hartland), an alternate captain last year, rookie defenseman Mike Corder (Warren) and rookie forward Jonathan Wickersham (Macomb) will all wear an ‘A’ this year.
“Grechy’s more of a vocal guy, while Wick and Cords have been our hardest workers,” Metro assistant coach Ryan Skop said.
In the transactions department, Metro released forward James Ryerse on Tuesday and then signed forward Todd Knaus, a Traverse City native who played with current Jets forward Josh Magnan (Waterford) last season with the Soo Eagles of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League.
“I’m anxious to see what Todd can do for us,” Metro GM Butch Wolfe said. “He plays with an edge and plays with a lot of intensity. I think he can help us right away.”
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
The Detroit Hitmen of the All American Hockey League have three ex-Jets on their roster this season in forward Matt Mosley (2002-2003), defenseman Jarrett Samp (2004-2005) and goaltender Rollyn Llewellyn (2006-2007).
The AAHL is a Single-A league with six teams for the 2009-2010 season, including two in Michigan with the Hitmen, based in Fraser, and the Battle Creek Revolution.
Photo by Andy Grossman